Jackz (tsunami_puppet) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

6 & 7

The Berlin Wall - Frederick Taylor
Pages: 668
Amazon Blurb: The appearance of a hastily-constructed barbed wire entanglement through the heart of Berlin during the night of 12-13 August 1961 was both dramatic and unexpected. Within days, it had started to metamorphose into a structure that would come to symbolise the brutal insanity of the Cold War: the Berlin Wall. A city of almost four million was cut ruthlessly in two, unleashing a potentially catastrophic East-West crisis and plunging the entire world for the first time into the fear of imminent missile-borne apocalypse. This threat would vanish only when the very people the Wall had been built to imprison, breached it on the historic night of 9 November 1989. Frederick Taylor's eagerly awaited new book reveals the strange and chilling story of how the initial barrier system was conceived, then systematically extended, adapted and strengthened over almost thirty years. Patrolled by vicious dogs and by guards on shoot-to-kill orders, the Wall, with its more than 300 towers, became a wired and lethally booby-trapped monument to a world torn apart by fiercely antagonistic ideologies. The Wall had tragic consequences in personal and political terms, affecting the lives of Germans and non-Germans alike in a myriad of cruel, inhuman and occasionally absurd ways. The Berlin Wall is the definitive account of a divided city and its people.
Thoughts: I am making a conscious effort to try and read more German things and history things (what is the point of having a degree in both after all?) and this ticked both boxes. As far as history books go, this at times feels more like ready a fiction book. It is incredibly well-written and makes history very accessible. Taylor has researched the subject thoroughly and I learnt so much. It was great to read a book which covered the construction, wider politics and personalities surrounding the wall. While just over 650 may be daunting, if you interested in this behemoth of Cold War history, this book is an excellent starting point. I've loaned it to my other half and he is really enjoying it - and he isn't really into modern history!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
Pages: 607 (3377)
Amazon Blurb: When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry Potter, his wand hand is blackened and shrivelled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort's darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny.
Thoughts: Still slowly working my way through the Harry Potter world. I really enjoyed this, must admit I think a few aspects would have worked better in the film adaptation and made it a bit more interesting. Unfortunately the final book is packed away as we have been waiting to move house for two months now! It may be my first book to be read once we are in our new place!
Tags: european, fantasy, harry potter, history, j.k. rowling, magic, non-fiction

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